XJTLU athletes scale new heights in rock climbing championship

December 18, 2023

“Beep, beep, beep …”

Three alerts pierce the air to signal the start of the speed climbing relay. Yunyi Shen, representing Team XJTLU, arches her body and springs upwards. She scales the rock wall in a flash, taps the timer at the summit, and descends to the ground to pass the baton to teammate Jimian Wang.

Next to them, an athlete from a rival team has taken the lead. Determined, Xinyu Liu, who is handling the third leg, ascends with nimble resolve to secure XJTLU a spot in the finals.

Xinyu Liu (left)

The mixed relay was one of many highlights from the 19th All China University Rock Climbing Championship, in which five XJTLU students made their debut against climbers from 68 universities.

In the men’s division A events, Liu came first in the boulder climb, second in the lead climb, and third in the speed climb. He and teammate Zerong Ma also finished as runners-up in the team event.

Shen secured eighth place in the women’s division A boulder climb, and with Liu and Ma claimed fifth spot in the division A mixed speed relay.

The 19th All China University Rock Climbing Championship

In the lead climb, athletes are assessed based on the height they can reach in a specified time, while speed climbing sees two competitors race using a designated route. In the boulder, climbers navigate short and challenging routes without the aid of ropes.

Xinyu Liu (middle)

Liu, a Year Four student of BEng Urban Planning and Design, has been involved in the sport of rock climbing for 10 years. He says he was intitially drawn by the exhilarating sensation of gradually distancing himself from the ground and approaching the vast expanse of the sky.

“Climbing helps me forget life’s trivialities, allowing my body and mind to relax,” he says. “Despite the pressures of daily life, every time I ascend a wall I sense being in an expansive realm and my mindset broadens.”

Despite being seen as an individual pursuit, Liu sees rock climbing as a team sport. “Gaining a deep understanding of each route’s design requires seeking advice from experienced climbers. It’s only by consistently broadening one’s perspective that personal improvement can be achieved.”

XJTLU climbing club

Shen, a Year Three student of BEng Architectural Engineering, is the inaugural president of the XJTLU Climbing Club, which she co-founded with Liu. She describes the sport as a fusion of physical strength and mental acuity.

“Rock climbing challenges athletes in observation and strategic thinking, as each competition route is distinct,” she says. “While training allows us to practice movements similar to those in competitions, achieving an exact match is impossible. So during competitions we need to engage our minds in real-time, analyse the wall, and identify the optimal route. It's like solving a puzzle.”

Yunyi Shen

Yuan Zhou, a Physical Education Officier at XJTLU’s Sports Centre, which has its own climbing wall facilities, coached the team for this year’s championship, held 31 October to 5 November in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

She commended the students for their “remarkable unity” and says they voluntarily organised training sessions at gyms in different cities in their free time to gain experience with various routes.

“In competitions, your only adversary is yourself. The challenge is to push your limits,” Zhou says. “While speed climbing involves direct competition with an opponent, the majority of your focus needs to be on honing your own abilities. The same is true for bouldering; you must strategise how to handle holds of different


By Liu He
Translated by Yimei Liao
Edited by Craig McIntosh and Xinmin Han
Photos by Yichen Chen and Yuan Zhou

December 18, 2023


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